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Us 40, America 16, United States 11, Cap 11, Washington 10, U.s. 9, United States Senate 5, Iraq 3, Afghanistan 3, Blinder 3, Obama 3, Fema 2, Martin Feldstein 2, Clinton Administration 2, Madam 2, Alabama 2, Mr. Reid 2, Mr. Kerry 2, Conrad 2, Mr. Coburn 2,
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  CSPAN    Today in Washington    News/Business. News.  

    July 22, 2011
    2:00 - 6:00am EDT  

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here are my concerns. first of all in time you get a gang meeting behind closed doors they don't accompishing of things in second understand the basic promise. raise the debt ceiling now and congress promises to cut spending later. raise taxes now in congress will promise to cut spending later. congress promising. this is not your spouse making a promise to you. this is not your family or a trusted friend making a promise. this is not your preacher pastor or rabbi making a promise. this is congress making a promise. this thing is not going to fly with the mega-people and certainly is not going to fly with those in the house. there is one plan that has been put on paper, one plan that has been debated come one plan that is the passed by congress come when plan that is bipartisan support, one plan that fixes the problem and that is the cut, cap and balance plan. my message is real simple. harry reid, bring it up were a vote. have the courage to put it out
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there and let the senate debated. these guys are great debaters. let it happen. bring it up for a vote. what are you afraid of? of? lippe and people see over the weekend this debate. let them hear about what cut, cap and balance is all about and i think we do that we can win. thank you.
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call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. conrad: mr. president, i rise today to discuss the legislation that's come over from the house of representatives that i must say
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i consider some of the most ill-considered legislation that i've ever seen come over from the other body. this legislation has been hastily thrown together, never had a hearing, and yet proposes to amend the constitution of the united states in dramatic and draconian ways. mr. president, this is truly dangerous business. i have been part of the fiscal commission. i was part of the majority that supported its conclusions to reduce our debt from what it would otherwise be by $4 trillion. 11 of us supported that plan, five democrats, five republicans, one independent. i have been for the last six months an active member of the group of six, three democrats, three republicans.
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we've reduced -- released our plan to reduce the debt from what it would otherwise be by $3.7 trillion. i've been part of putting out the democratic senate budget committee plan. i am proud to say it would reduce the debt from what it would otherwise be by $4 trillion. i have spoken in my entire career, 25 years here in the united states senate, of the dangers of deficit and debt. the risk of the debt threat to our country. i believe passionately that we've got to find a way to come together to reduce the danger of these runaway debts. but, mr. president, this legislation that has come over from the house cannot be the answer. it is not bipartisan. it is superpart safnl superpart.
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it is totally done on one side of the ledger. and, mr. president, it will not pass, it will not become law, and it should not. now, let's understand the context within which we're operating. first of all, as a country, we are borrowing 41 cents of every dollar that we spend. our gross debt is now 100% of our gross domestic product. the best economists in the country have warned us that once you get to a debt that's more than 90% of our gross domestic product, your future economic proces-- futureeconomic prospec danger. that's, why mr. president, i have been deeply involved in every serious bipartisan attempt to reduce deficits and debt. but this proposal that has come over from the house, not having
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had a single hearing in this body -- not one, is truly radical. mr. president -- again, i say to my colleagues, we have an urgent need to act. but we shouldn't panic. and, unfortunately, i think that's what the house did when they sent us this half-baked concoction of ideas that don't hold together, that don't add up, and that would actually further threaten the economic recovery. there is no denying that we face a debt threat. this is what the chairman of the joint chiefs said in june of last year. "our national debt is our biggest national security threat." and now we have had the rating agencies warn us that if we don't act, if we go doo get our debt and deficits under control,
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they're going to downgrade u.s. debt's rating -- the rating of u.s. debt, the rating of how the markets respond to our debt offers. that would have a very serious impact on what we pay to borrow money. and, remember, for every 1% increase in the interest rates we pay, it adds $1.3 trillion to the debt. here's what the rating agencies have said. "we may lower the long-term rating on the u.s. by one or more notches into the aa category in the next three months if we conclude that congress and the administration have not achieved at that credible solution to the rising u.s. government debt burden and are not likely to achieve one in the foreseeable future. " mr. president, that's why i
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joijoined the group of six some sixes month ago to produce a bipartisan plan to deal with the debt threat. and we've released that plan now. three democrats, three republicans, many more of our colleagues on both sides have joined, have said they're with us. and so we've got a way forward. but it's certainly not the legislation that has come over here that we're considering today from the house of representatives. this legislation would restrict the ability to respond to economic downturns and actually compound declines. it uses social security funds to calculate balance and subjects that program to the same cuts as other federal spending. even though we all understand that's totally separate from the rest of the budget. and it shifts ultimate decisions on budgeting to unelected and
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unaccountable judges. what a mistake that would be. and it requires a state ratification process that could take years to complete. we don't have years to deal with this problem. i'm afraid that this is mostly political theater that has been sent to us, rather than a serious response to the problem. perhaps most alarming, the proposal that is before us could turn a recession into a depression. mr. president, we need to think very, very carefully how we respond to this debt threat, and then we need to react in a serious and credible way, and we've got to stand together with our colleagues. that's why i was proud to be a part of the fiscal commission, because we produced a plan that would get our debt under control
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and start reducing it, and there were 11 of us -- five democrats, five republicans, and one independent -- a majority of that commission that agreed to that plan. and it's why i've been proud to btobe part of the group of circumstance three dernlings three republicans, to begin to control our debt and work it down. mr. president, none of those plans and none of the other bipartisan plans would risk turning a recession into a depression. but that's exactly what the legislation from the house would do. why do i say that? well, here's one of the most respected scholars in this town, from the american enterprise institute. he called the balanced budget amendment that has come from the house "a really dumb idea." this is what he said. "few ideas are more seductive on the surface and more destructive
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in reality than a balanced budget amendment. here's why: nearly all of our states have balanced budget requirements. that means when the economy cellulose, states are forced to raise taxes or slash spending at just the wrong time, providing a fiscal drag when what is needed is countercyclical policy to stimulate the economy. in fact, the fiscal drag from the states in the 2009-2010 period was barely countered by the federal stimulus plan. that meant the federal stimulus provided was nowhere near what was needed but far better than doing nothing. now imagine that scenario with a federal drag instead." mr. ornstein doesn't just imagine that. "the washington post" in an editorial from last friday said, "rewriting the constitution is the wrong way to deal with the
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debt." let me just reference in their second column these words. "worse yet, the latest version would impose an absolute cap on spending as a share of the economy. it would prevent federal expenditures from exceeding 18% of the gross domestic product in any year. most unfortunately, the amendment lacks a clause letting the government exceed that limit to strengthen a struggling economy. no matter how shaky the state of the economy, no matter how shaky the state of the union, rather, policy-makers would be prevented from adopting emergency spending such as the extension of unemployment insurance and other countercyclical expenses that have helped cushion the blow of the current economic downturn." mr. president, two of the most
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distinguished economists in our country -- alan blinder, the former deputy chairman of the federal reserve, and mark zandi, who was an advisor to john mccain's presidential campaign -- studied the government response to the latest financial crisis. here's what they concluded: "we find that it's effects on real g.d.p., gorks and inflation are huge and probably averted what could have been called great depression 2.0." this amendment before us would have stopped the governmental response which two of the nation's most distinguished economists tell us averted great depression 2.0. when all is said and done, the financial and fiscal policies will have cost taxpayers a substantial sum, but not nearly
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as much as most had feared and not nearly as much as if policy makes had not acted at all. if the comprehensive policy responses saved the economy from another depression, as we estimate, they were well worth their cost." mr. president, this amendment that is before us now would have prevented this response, would have prevented averting a great depression. mr. president, here is the work of zandi and blinder with respect to what would have happened to jobs absent the federal response. jobs with the federal response, the green line; jobs without the federal response, the red line. eight million fewer jobs without the federal response to prevent a depression. mr. president, unemployment,
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what would have happened without the federal response? according to this detailed study by sudan dip and blinder, without the federal response -- by zandi and blinder, without the federal response unemployment today would be 16% instead of the 9% we're experiencing. we would be in a depression. mr. president, that is the hard reality, and the amendment before us would have prevented that kind of governmental response. now, mr. president, they call this plan cut, cap, and balance. they should have called it cut, cap, and kill medicare, because that's really what this plan would do. it would cut, cap, and kill medicare. why do i say that? well, if we look at the house budget proposal that underlies
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this plan, we see what happens under traditional medicare. under medicare now, the beneficiary pays 25% of their expenses. under the republican budget plan that underlies the amendment that's come before us, medicare beneficiaries would pay 68% of the expenses of their health care. in other words, somebody who is medicare eligible, qualifies for the program, pays their required costs, pays their required co-pays, pays their required premiums, currently pays 25% of the cost, under the plan, the republican plan from the house, that would increase to 68% over time. that stands medicare on its head. instead of medicare as normal insurance does, paying the
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lion's share, the individual would pay the lion's share of their health care expenses. mr. president, the underlying house republican plan that underlies this amendment would increase the out-of-pocket costs to a medicare beneficiary from $6,000 to $12,500. that would be health spending for a typical 65-year-old medicare beneficiary in 2022. instead of paying $6,000 under current law, they would pay $12,500. now, somebody who's been following the details will look at these numbers and say, well, senator conrad, what you've outlined there is the house republican plan, and what's been sent you in an amendment actually is even more draconian
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than the house republican plan. it goes even further. it cuts medicare even more. and, yes, mr. president, that's true. i have understated very substantially the devastation that would be done to medicare under the amendment before us. how can that be? here's how it can be. here is the red line shows the spending under the house g.o.p. budget. but in this amendment, in this legislation that has come to us, not only do they adopt the house republican budget, they then trumpet, they then override it with a constitutional amendment that goes even further. so here is the spending under the house republican plan. it goes from 24% of g.d.p. down to 19.9%. then it's leapfrogged by the
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provisions of the constitutional amendment that would take spending down to 18% of g.d.p. from 24.1% to 18%. that's a 25% cut if you took the cut across the board. but their plan doesn't take the cut across the board. it shields certain things. and so the cuts to those things that aren't shielded have to be more draconian and even deeper. mr. president, just visually, i thought i should produce a chart that shows what would happen if you had to reach the limit that is in the constitutional amendment that is before this body today. with an 18% cap on all gross domestic product spending,
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here's social security. that's 5% of gross domestic product. defense and other nonhealth spending, as you can see, over 15%. it takes you to well over 15%. then you've got interest, and you're at their cap. there is no money for medicare. there is no money for medicaid. there is no money for any of the other health care accounts. if they just hold harmless social security, defense and other nonhealth spending, and of course we've got to pay interest on the debt, there's nothing left over. that's why i call this cap, cut, and kill medicare. i should have added cut, cap, and kill medicaid.
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cut, cap, and kill every other health care account. mr. president, this plan caps spending going forward at draconian and unrealistic levels. it fails to account for the retirement of the baby-boom generation and rising health care costs. perhaps more remarkable, it provides no war funding for 2013 to 2021. none. let me repeat that. this plan that has come over from the house is so ill considered, so hastily thrown together, so lacking in credibility that they provide for no war funding after 2013. does that mean they're
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advocating bringing all the troops home from every location everywhere around the world? i'm certain not because that's not the position they've taken. but they don't provide any money for it. mr. president, i don't know who slapped this thing together, but they weren't very careful in what they did. none of it adds up. it is totally make-believe. mr. president, this is not make-believe. this is what's going to happen to the number of people who are eligible for medicare and social security running up to 2050. the number of people eligible is almost going to double. that is a demographic tidal wave that is a reality. it's not a projection. these people have been born. they're alive today. they're going to retire. they're going to be eligible.
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and this amendment before us makes no provision for them. so what's going to happen? they're going to shred medicare. they're going to shred medicaid. and they're going to put at risk social security. that's as clear as it can be. mr. president, here's the reality that we confront today as a nation. spending as a share of g.d.p. is the highest it has been in 60 years. but revenue as a share of g.d.p. is the lowest it has been in 60 years. both these are facts. both these are true. and our friends on the other side are saying, you cannot touch the revenue side of the equation. even if it is closing tax havens, going after tax scams that proliferate the tax code today, they say, oh, no, you
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can't touch that. you can't make aepblg changes on the -- any changes on the revenue side of the equation even though the revenue is the lowest it has been in 60 years as a share of our national income. they say it would take a two-thirds vote and they would put it in the constitution of the united states that they would require a two-thirds vote to close any tax haven, any tax shelter, any abusive tax scam. take a two-thirds vote. mr. president, that's not what i learned about when i was growing up about the constitution of the united states. it didn't say anything about protecting those who engage in tax scams and tax havens and abusive tax shelters. but that's what this plan would do. mr. president, "the washington post" back in may made an analysis how did we get in this ditch that we're in of runaway debts and runway deficits.
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their conclusion after this study was that the biggest culprit is an erosion of tax revenue. together the economy and tax bills enacted under former president bush and to a lesser extent by president obama wiped out $6.3 trillion in anticipated trillion. that's nearly half of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt. federal tax collections now stand at their lowest level as a percentage of the economy in 60 years. and this amendment before us would require a two-thirds vote in order to do anything about it. mr. president, let's get serious. as i say, i've been part of every serious bipartisan effort here over the last two years to come up with a plan to get our
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debt under control. so, yes, cut spending. yes, reforeman entitlements. yes, to get the revenue base recovered so that we can reduce our debt. but, mr. president, this plan before us is a disaster. now, let's look at reality. the last five times the budget's been in surplus in the last 40 years, revenue has been close to 20% of g.d.p. this plan would require a two-thirds vote to increase any revenue. and revenue is at 14.5% of g.d.p. wow! you talk about consigning this country to an endless round of
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economic uncertainty and an undermining of the economic position of the united states. vote for this thing. mr. president, martin feldstein, who is one of the most conservative kpwheufts in the country -- conservative economists in the country, has said we've got to take on these tax expenditures. tax expenditures now amount to $1.1 trillion a year. we are spending more through the tax code than we are in all appropriated spending every year. and yet, this amendment would require a two-thirds vote to change any of those tax expenditures, to close any of the tax loopholes, to go after any of the tax havens, abusive tax shelters. mr. president, here is martin
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feldstein, professor of economics at harvard, chairman of the council of economic advisors under president reagan -- under president reagan. this is what he said: cutting tax expenditures is really the best way to reduce government spending. tax expenditures is really the best way to reduce government spending. eliminating tax expenditures does not increase marginal tax rates or reduce the reward for saving, investment or risk taking. it would also increase overall economic efficiency by removing incentives that disstort private spending decisions and eliminating or consolidating the large number of overlapping tax-based subsidies. it would also greatly simplify tax filings. in short, cutting tax expenditures is not at all like other ways of raising revenue.
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close quote. and the interesting enough, every bipartisan commission has come back and said, as one part of dealing with our deficits and debt, we ought to reduce tax expenditures. it's just spending by another name. but, you know what? the legislation before us would require a two-thirds vote to change any of these tax expenditures. mr. president, because it raises revenue, raises revenue. so their against that. -- so they're against that. here'here's where if goes. the top 26% get 26% of the tax -- the top 1% get 26% of the tax expenditures. these loopholes that have proliferated have gone to the very top, and we're going to have to reform this tax code,
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take out the junk, and we're going to at the same time go after these offshore tax havens and tax shelters that some of the very best-off among us, the most fortunate are using to dodge what they legitimately owe in this country. you know, they call this legislation cut, cap, and balance. they should have called it preserve, protect, and defend tax havens and tax shelters. because that's in effect what it would do. they say, if you go after these tax havens, these tax shelters, that that's a tax increase; that increases revenue; therefore it would take a two-thirds vote to do anything about it. let me say to my colleagues, this is a little building down in the cayman islands, a little five-story building. it claims to be home to 18,857
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companies. they all say they're doing business out of this little building. this is the most efficient building in the world. it's unbelievable. 18,857 companies say they're doing business out of this little building. that is a remarkable accomplishment, to be running 18,000 businesses out of this little building. how can that possibly be? but, of course, it's not. the only thing they're running down there is a giant tax scam on all the rest of us who pay what we owe. we aren't down in the cayman islands -- by the way, it has no taxes this aply to these businesses -- that apply to these businesses.
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we're right here. we're filing our taxes and we're paying them. these companies are dodging theirs. mr. president, if anybody doubts that this has become a huge hemorrhage for the u.s. treasury, here's what our own permanent subcommittee on investigations found. "experts have estimated that the total loss to the treasury from offshore tax evasion alone approaches $100 billion per year, including $40 billion to $70 billion from individuals and another $30 billion from corporations engaging in offshore tax evasion. abusive tax shelters add tens of billions of dollars more." mr. president, i tell you, before we raise taxes one thin dime on any of the rest of us who are paying our taxes, let's go after these folks who are
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dodging their responsibility and their obligations, and this amendment before us would require a two-thirds vote to do it. mr. president, that's not the end of it. the wealthiest 400 families in the united states, here's what's happened to their tax rates, their effective tax rates since 1995. in 1995, their effective tax rate was 29.9%. by 2007, it was down to 16.6%. the wealthiest among us have had their tax rates about cut in half. i don't know about you, i didn't have my tax cut in havment and a vast majority of americans didn't have their taxes cut in half. but with the help of well-placed lobbyists here, those who are the most fortunate have had
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their tax rates cut in half. mr. president, this amendment before us would say, it would take a two-thirds vote to change it. that's why i say this amendment should be called protect, preservings and defend tax havens and abusive tax shelters. mr. president, the last time the top rate was 39.6%, we experienced the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in u.s. history. those who say, you raise any revenue, you kill jobs -- really? that's not what history shows. the last time we had a comprehensive plan to cut spending and raise revenue to reduce the debt during the clinton administration, we kicked off the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in u.s. history. 39 straight quarters of economic growth, 32 of those quarters during the clinton administration, and 24 million jobs were created. mr. president, dealing with the
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deficit and the debt in a balanced and comprehensive way doesn't kill jobs; it creates the climate for the creation of jobs. because it improves the competitive position of the united states. mr. president, i have been part of three plans to reduce this debt from what it would otherwise be by $4 trillion. the fiscal commission plan -- i served, 111 of us endorsed that outcome. i was part of the group of six, we produced a plan to reduce the deficits and debt from what they would otherwise be by $3.7 trillion. i was part of the democrats on the senate budget committee that unveiled a plan to reduce deficits and debt from what they would otherwise be by $4 trillion. so i've been happy to be part of bipartisan efforts, part of efforts just on our side of the aisle, and interestingly enough, every single bipartisan
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commission has come up with a package of about $4 trillion in deficit savings. and the group of six did, i think, yeoman's work bringing the deficit down from 9.3% of g.d.p. down to 1. 9%. but, yes, we have revenue. and yes, we have spending cuts. and yes we reform entitlement programs. because all of that's necessary. this legislation before us says, whoa, wait a minute. we don't want to do it all. we want to do -- we want to focus on just part of it. this problem is too big to try to solve it with just part of the federal fiscal picture. it's going to take all parts to solve this problem. mr. president, the group of six, aim plowed to say, came up -- i'm proud to say, came up with a plan that stablizes this debt
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and begins to bring it down and avoiding this skyrocketing debt that we are otherwise going to experience. mr. president, this amendment, this legislation before us would stop it in its tracks. i think that would be a profound mistake. i hope my colleagues reject this ill-considered plan. ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, one of the things that from us the -- one of the things that frustrates the american people about washington is how hard it is to get straightforward answers. we in the congress have that same difficulty. it is hard to know sometimes what numbers and statements and plans really mean and what they will cost. politicians offer a budget proposal, and they say it cuts taxes even though taxes go up. they even come up with new names to disguise tax hikes.
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maybe they call them deficit cuts. that's been used. revenue enhancements, pretty common. revenue enhancements. or reduce spending in the tax code. reduced spending in the tax code. it doesn't mean eliminating the earned-income tax credit. it usually means some deduction somebody's allowed to take, and that's been renamed as spending. we hear people come to the floor and blame our massive deficit on anything and everything but our out-of-control spending. well, it's the war in iraq or it's a tax cut passed a decade ago. we can't have an honest budget if we really can't talk honestly and factually about it. and i hope to be able to contribute in some way to clarifying the issues.
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i'll do my best today to plainly state some of the things i think that are plainly true. first, i would like to address the myth that the president has a $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. that's been talked about a bit. it seems to be belief that the president has a plan to reduce spending by $4 trillion. but the only plan that the president has put on paper and allowed anybody to see is his february budget, which doubles the national debt. the president has never put a single spending cut plan on paper that actually reduces spending, and he has no program that would reduce substantially the deficit. if he does, it's a closely guarded secret. his budget that he submitted earlier this year increases taxes significantly, but it
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increased spending more by the congressional budget office annual circumstance it would increase the -- by the congressional budget office, analysis, it would increase the deficit more. it would increase by $13 trillion, doubling the entire debt of the united states again in the next ten years. and if there is a secret plan that does exist somewhere, it should be made public this afternoon. let's see it. i'd like to. i think millions of americans would feel the same way. summaries just don't work. the president summarized his budget that i just described as calling on americans to live within our means, and you will not add more to the debt.
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now that sounds pretty good because this year our deficit is projected to be $1,500000,000,000. so we'd like to be living within our means again. we'd like to not add more to the debt. but even by their own analysis, the plan didn't do it. and the congressional budget office, our independent group, analyzed the president's budget and found that in ten years the lowest single annual deficit that would occur would be $740 billion. the highest budget deficit president bush was $450 billion. the lowest that would be accrued would be $740 billion. and it goes up in the out years until it goes over $1 trillion, over $1,000,000,000,000,000.
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how would that be? live within your means? we can't deal with summaries and spin statements about a plan until that plan has been put in legislative language and scored. we also have received no plan from my senate democratic colleagues for a time there, a couple of months ago the democrats were on the path to producing a budget in the budget committee as required by statutory law. i, as ranking republican, was very anxious to see it, and we were told we'd get it it the morning of the hearing. not a bit sooner. so i grumbled about that. i'd like to have a little more time to see it, but it never
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happened. i think if the majority leader, not our committee chairman decided, the democratic leadership decided they didn't want to have a budget. one of their committee folks said it put a target on your back. senator reid said it would be foolish to have a budget. why would it be foolish to have a budget? well, you can't say your budget calls on you to live within your means if you actually put it out there. people can score it and find out whether that's true or not. so we haven't had a budget in this senate in 813 days. as of now, there is only one debt limit plan on paper. only one plan available for public scrutiny and review. and that's the one we're considering today. cut, cap, and balance. it cuts spending immediately. it caps it so it won't go up. and it requires the passage of a balanced budget amendment to ensure that washington ends deficit spending once and for
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all. the american people do not support a washington plan to pass some grand deal with tax hikes that never go away and with spending cuts that are talked about but never really materialize. so they're wise, i think, to the gimmicks and accounting of washington. they are not happy with us. at this very moment the people's representatives in congress have presided over a financial condition of this country where 40% of every dollar this government spends is borrowed. well, these are tea party people. you know, they're angry. they're not good people. they're angry people. why shouldn't they be angry when this kind of leadership has occurred in the congress of the
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united states of america? it is utterly, totally indefensible. it should never ever have happened. yet, it has. it threatens our financial future. it threatens our economy and our economic growth. so the american people are not happy about it. and so that's why i introduced a piece of legislation that would require seven days to review any bill that would increase the debt limit, because this is going to be complex. people want to bring it up at the 11th hour under a panic mode. if we don't pass it tomorrow, the world markets are going to be destabilized. interest could go up. and i don't know, some of those things could happen. we ought to do it before the last minute. we absolutely should do something to avoid this deadline. but we ought to not wait until the last minute and have plopped
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down in the united states senate some big, complex bill that's got to be passed before the sun rises the next day, and nobody has time to analyze it or score it to find out what it really means. but washington democratic colleagues are resisting the cut, cap, and balance bill because there's no gimmick in it. there's no accounting trick to get around if this becomes law. they know it will work. and for the big spenders, the only thing you don't want to pass is a piece of legislation that will work to contain spending, because you see, they want to spend more. and they think if they continue to spend more, then they can go and demand you raise taxes to pay for it. washington is going to have to end this spending spree.
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there are -- these kind of difficult choices are the responsible choices families, cities, states, county commissions are making every day, every year. in alabama, governor robert bentley oversaw an across-the-board cut of 15% from the general fund in the current year because of a constitutional prohibition on deficit spending. alabama's not going to run up a debt. and for next year, he's taken a cautious approach. hopefully we'll have more revenue, but he is cautiously approaching next year, and he's proposed cuts of up to 45% for some agencies that could -- that he felt would be appropriate places to reduce spending. those are tough choices. but unlike that, the federal
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government is not required to live within our means. another myth i'd like to address is the idea that our current budget crisis is the result of two wars and a tax cut. we've heard that over and over again. and the wars cost money, a good bit of money. over the entire decade, the cost of afghanistan and iraq wars is about $1.3 trillion. and that is a lot of money. again, that's over ten years, over a decade. this year alone, the deficit is expected to be $1.4 trillion. the deficit this year will be larger than the cost of the iraq and afghanistan wars over ten
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years. the driving force behind our deficit is not the wars in iraq and afghanistan. it's just not. war costs represent only 4% of total outlays over the last ten years. the total amount of money spent since president obama took office is $8.5 trillion. by the end of his first three years in office, we will have added $5 interest to our gross federal deficit. these are stunning numbers. bush had a widely criticized $450 billion deficit. since president obama has been in ofsz the deficits -- in office the deficit looks like it will be $1.5 trillion.
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we are borrowing too close to half of what we're spending every single day. in the last few years, discretionary spending, non-defense discretionary spending in the last two years increased 24%. 12% a year on average. these is discretionary spending. this isn't social security, medicare which increased far less than that. maybe half of that. the stimulus package alone added into law in a single day in 19 -- in 2009, we passed it on this floor over my objection. that stimulus package, every penny of which was borrowed. we were in debt but they said the economy needs to be stimulated. we're going to spend $850 billion or so. that one stimulus package passed
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in the largest expenditure bill in the history of the american public -- republic costs more than the entire war in iraq has cost. the spending when president bush took office was less than $2 trillion. today it's almost $4 trillion. it will be almost $6 trillion by the end of the decade. there is only one honest answer to the question over why our debt is rising so fast, and that is out-of-control domestic spending. another myth that's circulating, which i'd like to address, concerns the outline from our colleagues and friends who participated and worked hard on the gang of six proposal. and i give theme lo creme a lott and respect for the hard work they put into it. i wish it had been produced a month ago so we could have had legislative language and know what it really moons today. the authors of the summary that they just produced for us claim
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that the approach would reduce the deficit by $3.7 trillion, which maybe is a third or so of the deficit we're projected to see in the next ten years. but my staff on the budget committee, take #-g the pages -- summary pages that they've produced for us can only find $1.2 trillion in reduced spending in that outline, along with what's pretty clear -- very clear -- a $1 trillion tax increase. where does the other $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction claimed in the outline come from? chairman conrad, one of the members of the gang of six -- and our chairman on the budget committee -- a man i respect and have enjoyed working with, says -- even says the outline has a $1.5 billion -- $1.5 trillion
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tax cut. but this is compared, see -- this is how these numbers get bandied about -- is compared against a baseline which assumes more than $3.5 trillion in tax increases would occur. so he's only going to increase taxes, i guess, $2 trillion -- i don't know -- and you get a savings by not having them go up as much. but based on the current tax rates that are in existence in america today, as we read their outline -- and i think they would agree -- it increases taxes by $1 trillion over ten years. that's a large amount. the real cost of the tax changes, some say, who've looked at these numbers, is not $1 trillion buds 2 trillion but $2. so hopefully we'll get legislative language that will actually be analyzed and we
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would know how much taxes would actually go up. the last myth i'd like to address is perhaps the most important of all, and this is the myth that we only need about $2 trillion in actual spending cuts over the next ten years. and that's basically been what our colleagues are saying. well, they float the idea of a $4 trillion in savings. what that means is you save $2 trillion by reducing spending and you increase taxes $2 trillion and you've saved $4 billion over ten years. i'm not sure that's what the american people are expecting of us when we're saying we're saving money, by taking it from them, not saving the american people more, it's not saving the private economy now, to take another $2 trillion from them, because there's no free lunch.
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somebody pays. our democratic colleagues have said, although no plan has ever been made public to this effect, that they could get behind a budget deal that duc reduces tht $4 billion over the next ten years, half of it comprised of spending cuts. well, this is not even close, frankly. -- to what is needed to ultimately balance our budget. we are projected to spend $46 trillion over the next ten yea years. a $2 trillion reduction in spending is only about a 4% reduction in spindzin in spendit to increase by almost 60%. remember, we'll say we're reducing spending.
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not reducing spending, reducing the rate of growth in spending by $2 trillion on a $46 trillion plane. think about it. we're not talking about reducing spending. this budget would have the expenditures go up significantly in the next ten years to $46 trillion. the $2 trillion would be a growth -- reducing in growth, and $2 trillion of tax increases would mean we'd be able to spend the same $46 trillion. we just wouldn't -- we would borrow $2 trillion less. because we'd extracted more from the american people. in just a little over two months, our debt will reach 100% of our economy, 100% of g.d.p. that's the gross debt.
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that would match the size of our economy, cost us a million jobs or more a year when that occurs. we have the rogoff-reinhardt study. secretary geithner said it is an excellent study. he said in some ways it understates the problem we have. he knows this is a real problem for mechanic. their study shows that when your debt reaches as large as ours, it starts pulling down economic growth. we expected 3% growth the first quarter. came in at 1.8%. could that be because we've crossed the 90% threshold already in debt to g.d.p., and that debt becomes a burden on the economy and reduces growth? this quarter's growth is going to be lower. the experts are downgrading the projected growth for the third and fourth quarters of this
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fiscal year -- this calendar year. a very serious thing. and christine roemer, who used to be in president obama's white house on economic matters, said 1% growth means you'll add a million jobs. so if we lose them and come in at 2% growth instead 36%, we fail to add -- instead of 3%, we fail to add a million jobs we could have added. and the debt, i truly believe, is the reason we're having surprisingly low growth rates. below projected rates. maybe i'm wrorntion but we certainly have a study that -- maybe i'm wrong, but we certainly have a study that seems to say that and has been praised by economists all over the country. the honest truth is that this president and his democratic senate are not going to agree to the level of spending cuts in a
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debt deal that's necessary to put our country on a sound path. i think that's a fact. we've been negotiating and talking all year. the house laid out a budget plan. the senate has refused. 800-plus days without a budget. they are determined not to reduce spending. after increasing disom particular spend -- after increasing domestic spending, non-defense, by 24%. they say they'll freeze spending. freeze spending at levels that have jumped 24%? we don't have the money. we're borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar we spend. this is a -- unfortunately, we've got a battle over the vision for the future of america. it's a big-government vision that a lot of our members have,
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and they're going to work as hard as they possibly can to preserve that vision, preserve that spending. after running up this huge debt by 24% baseline increase, that does not count the stimulus package of almost $900 billion that's thrown on top of that run up all this debt and now they want to go to the american people sand sa and say, we're nt going to cut spending; you have got to pay more in taxes. i don't think that's what the american people want. so we've got a national debate here. it's the great debate of our time. it's not going to be settled in two weeks. a few people are not going to meet in secret and work out some grand and glorious deal -- i wish they could, but i don't think they are. i'd be pleased if they do. i'm confident that the good sense and wisdom of the american
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people ultimately is going to prevail. i'm confident they will -- we will eventually get our spending under control. we will restore the american principles of limited government and build a better, freer, future for our chin, raise the debt limit so we don't have that kind of problem and put this country on a sound path. if we get our debt under control, i think this growth will jump, and i believe we'll see the progress we've always seen in this great, productive, dynamic country. i thank the chair great
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part of our history. madam president, obviously everybody in america is more than well aware that the date of august 2 is fast coming at us and they are also unfortunately well aware that the united states senate and the congress appear to be stuck yet again at this moment. in fact, here in the senate, we're debating a constitutional amendment to balance the budget instead of balancing the budget.
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i've heard of a lot of side-steps around here but this is what they call a message amendment and it's sending a pretty mixed message to america. but what we, in effect, ought to be doing here is not trying to pass a piece of paper that tells us to do what we know we ought to do. we ought to be doing it. and what we ought to be doing is stopping our country from defaulting on debt that has already been obligated. what people are refusing to do in the house and on the other side of the aisle is live up to our obligations. this is not suggesting that we're giving permission to borrow more money, to spend money on something irresponsible in the future. this is paying the debts of our country, money already spent,
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already obligated. and here we have a so-called cut, cap, balance act that passed the house of representatives. it is, everybody understands, nothing more than an ideological message exercise. everybody knows it's not going to pass the senate. and we know even more that if it did pass the senate, it's not going to be signed by the president of the united states. so what it's doing is taking up time that we ought to be spending with a real solution on the floor of the senate that addresses the needs and concerns of the american people. we ought to be reaching that compromise. what this does, unfortunately, is, in terms of message, send the message to the american people that this place may not quite get it still and that a
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lot of folks here are more prepared to play politics than to really engage in the real business of our nation. if you looked at the specifics of this constitutional amendment that is not going to pass, it's divided into three parts and each and every one of them are equally problematic. the cut part would require immediate cuts that would cut almost 1% of our g.d.p., which economists tell us would result in the immediate loss of 700,000 jobs. so they're coming to the floor with a program to actually cut 700,000 jobs at a time that most americans believe job creation is the single-most important thing that we could do here in the country as well as avoid defaulting on our debt. the cap part locks into place the unrealistic spending levels that the house passed in their
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budget while at the same time preserving hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest americans and tax loopholes for the biggest corporations. the balance part, you almost don't even have to comment on that. i think every american scratches their head and says, "what?" they're going to put in these unrealistic caps that would strip away research and development, education funding, the ability of kids to go to college, all of the things on which you build the future job base of our country, strip that away. but, hey, let's preserve the tax cuts for the wealthiest people in the country, who, incidentally, may be investing the benefits of those tax cuts in china or in india or job creation in many other places other than here. and the balance part of this
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amendment requires the passage of a balanced budget constitutional amendment that would require a supermajority to raise any new revenue or close any wasteful tax loopholes. so in other words, you don't have to have a supermajority to decide where and what you're going to wind up spending but you have to have a supermajority in order to raise any revenue or close an egregious tax loophole. one that may have no economic purpose, may be completely outdated, may be a sweetheart deal that got into the tax code over o the course of the years, but you still have to get a supermajority to get rid of that. everybody here knows how hard it is to get 60 votes. a lot of the business in the united states senate has been caught up by the eternal filibuster. every single nomination, every
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single small piece of legislation that comes to the floor of the senate, everything requires a motion to proceed which requires 60 votes, which is effectively a filibuster each time. and we've had a record number of filibusters in the united states senate compared to any other time in the entire history of the united states of america. so requiring a two-thirds supermajority -- two-thirds supermajority -- would lock in gridlock, would lock in bad policies for the future. and the constitutional amendment that is proposed would make all revenue raising measures unconstitutional else in secured a two-thirds supermajority in both the house and the senate. now, again, i repeat, we do not need a piece of paper, new one,
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we do not need an amendment to the constitution, a group of words, to tell us to do our du duty. every single member of the senate raised their hand and took an oath of office right over here beside the presiding officer and said they promised to uphold the constitution of the united states. all we need is the courage and the conviction to make the compromises and do the business of the united states senate. and it's not going to get any easier just because you pass some words that tell you to do it. we did this in the 1990's. what i'm talking about is not pie-in-the-sky. it's not some theory. we balanced the budget in the 1990's and we did it without a constitutional amendment. we did it. we had people of good
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commonsense who came together and we voted the compromises and we not only balanced the budget, we created a $5.6 trillion surplus for america and at the same time we created 23 million new jobs for americans. and guess what? while we balanced the budget in a sensible way, without artificial caps and artificial draconian instructions but with common sense while we did it, every single quintile of american earners -- income earners rose in their income. every single american quintile saw their incomes go up. america got richer than at any time in america's history, even as we balanced the budget without a balanced budget amendment. so i'll tell ya, if -- if we go down the road that our friends
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on the other side of the aisle are proposing, you would see major reductions in medicare, major reductions much worse than what the ryan budget has proposed. social security beneficiaries would receive a $3,000 reduction in average recipient benefits within ten years and be forced to see deeper cuts down the road. i think it is safe to say, without exaggeration, it would put an end to social security and medicare as we know them today. 6 this week aaron maskin, robert solo and allen blender, each nobel laureates in economics, and other renowned economists sent an open letter to president obama and the congress in strong opposition to a constitutional balanced budget amendment. and these economists stated that a balanced budget requirement to
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the constitution would be a very unsound policy that would adversely affect the economy. they believe adding arbitrary caps on federal expenditures would make the balanced budget amendment even more problematic, and a balanced budget amendment would mandate per veers actions in the face of recessions. by requiring large budget cuts when the economy is weakest, the amendment would actually aggravate recessions. mr. president, -- madam president, in the 27 years that i have been privileged to serve here, we have already debated this several times. and we have voted on it. as i have said in the past, the most compelling argument against this amendment doesn't come from me or from anybody on the floor. it actually comes from the real experts, the people who frame the constitution of the united states. if they were here on the senate
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floor today, they would vote against this amendment because it violates the constitution's basic tenet, which is majority rule, and the motion that the most fundamental document of law can be set aside for a time is ludicrous and it's an anathema to the reasons for having the government document it all. i have some more to say on this, but i notice the majority leader is now on the floor with other colleagues, and i suspect he has something to share with us, so i would yield the floor to the majority leader. mr. reid: i would ask that my friend be recognized such as his statement not appear interrupted, and that when i finish my statement, that he be recognized to finish his. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. the majority leader. mr. reid: i want everyone to know who has any interest in this piece of legislation on the floor today that this is the time to come and debate it to their heart's content. if they want to debate it late tonight, we're here to do it late tonight. if they want to debate it
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tomorrow for a period of time, they can do that, but i'm going to -- i think this piece of legislation is about as weak and senseless as anything that has ever come on this senate floor, and i am not going to waste the senate's time day after day on this piece of legislation which i think is an anathema to what our country is all about. so everyone understand, we're going to have a vote tomorrow. i'm not going to wait until saturday. we're going to have a vote tomorrow. i feel confident that this legislation will be disposed of one way or the other. the american people should understand that this is a bad piece of legislation. perhaps some of the worst legislation in the history of this country. mr. kerry: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: i gather my comments won't be interrupted, but frankly after what the majority
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leader has said, i don't think i need to go on with my speech, to be truthful with you. i just ask unanimous consent that the full text be placed in the record as if read in full. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: and i -- i hope that we will move quickly to the real business which is avoiding default. coming up with a -- let me just say, madam president, i think there is one effort we ought to be engaged in, and that is the serious effort of passing the mcconnell-reed, -- mcconnell-reid, reid-mcconnell, whatever you want to call it. their initiative is not kicking anything down the road. their initiative requires just like base closing commission for the united states senate to deal with the big deal in a very short period of time. if colleagues want to speed that period of time up, i wouldn't object. i think that would make sense. but what we need to do is recognize that in the next few days, we do not have the time to
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put the kind of common sense to the task that will allow us to get the budget figures from the c.b.o., that will allow us to know with certainty that what we're doing with medicare or social security or medicaid or all of these other important initiatives are being done in the most deliberative and thoughtful way possible. that's what this institution is supposed to be about. that's what separates the united states senate. this is often called the world's most deliberative body but it hasn't been particularly deliberative on this subject in the past months. we have an opportunity with the reid-mcconnell initiative to be able to put in place a process that will guarantee that we have up-or-down votes on these critical issues after all the relevant committees have had the opportunity to weigh in, using perhaps the commission -- the budget commission's report, together with what the so-called
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gang of six -- i don't think it's a particularly appropriate name -- but with what they have proposed which i think is a very constructive and important contribution to the debate, and it helps us to have a starting point for this discussion as congress in the next short period of time can actually fashion the kind of budget decision that benefits america and does credit to this institution as a truly deliberative body. that's what i hope we will do, and i look forward to working with my colleagues in an effort to make that mr. president, thank you for allowing me to speak, and i yield the floor. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: thank you. and i wanted to spend some time talking about what is coming before us saturday morning. as a member of the gang of six, i'm wanting us to solve our problem.
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but the best way to solve that problem would be the bill that's going to be voted on on saturday morning. and why is that? you know, we're borrowing $4 billion a day. and i've got enough gray hair to know that regardless of all the good intentions and regardless of all the statements of the members on the floor that we'll never live within our means in washington until we are forced to live within our means. and just because a constitutional amendment would take probably four years to pa pass, given what the american people think about it, isn't a reason not to go on and do it regardless of what we do about our short-term problem coming up august 2. so the very fact that people would say, we're not gonna pass the cut, cap and balance because
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it won't happen in a period of time is exactly the same approach that got us $14.3 trillion in debt, that has our credit rating at risk and puts us in the kind of problems that we have today. so i've offered a plan i think is even better. i know not many of my colleagues will, but here's a plan to cut $9 trillion over the next ten years, but it's the only plan that specifically states what you would cut, where you would cut it and why you would cut it. it's backed up with the facts. nobody else can claim that. you don't have to like all of them, but what we do know is if something doesn't come out of this body between now and august 2 that cuts at least $4 trilli $4 trillion, this country's going to see significantly increased interest rates as a cost of that.
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and what so often happens is you hear wonderful words and wonderful speeches on the senate floor but nobody putting their name on where you would cut. well, i've put my name on $9 trillion worth of cuts. it pinches everybody in this country, everybody. it pinches everybody. but you know what? we're all in this. we have lived the last 30 years in this country on the backs of those who are going to pay the taxes for the next 30 years. it's time we start paying back. it's time we start giving back. you know, the senate is a different place today than when i came to the senate. when i came to the senate, the idea was not to block legislation but to discuss legislation. to have the courage and the backbone to vote against something and go home and tell your constituents why you voted against it.
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to offer amendments that you thought would improve legislation and defend those amendments. and to vote for a bill that you thought was in the best interest of the country and be able to defend that. what's happened the last 3 1/2 years in the senate is we just don't vote because the politicians of the senate don't want to go home and explain their positions. so if you're not voting, you're not accountable and you're not responsible. that type of behavior is exactly the opposite behavior we need to have today. so come saturday morning, when members of the senate vote against proceeding to cut, cap and balance, they will display either courage or cowardice. and i'm not talking about simple words. there is only one plan that has passed the house of representatives that raises the debt limit and addresses what is
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said to be needed by the rating agencies and that's cut, cap and balance. and not to allow a vote to proceed -- not to allow proceeding to that debate, whether you agree with it or not, you can change it through amendments. you have the votes to change it through amendments. but to not allow it to proceed so that the american people can see their elected senators and their real positions and what they know has to be done, you know, what really happens around here is we say things so we can protect our political careers. and you know what? what that does is we're not only bankrupting our financial, we're bankrupting our country's history and heritage.
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the heritage of this country was sacrificed and that means even sacrifice of a political career to do the right thing right now for the country. i believe if you were to pass something like this, we would lower our debt by at least $2 trillion over the next ten years, the economy would absolutely boom, we would quit undermining self-reliance and enforcing dependency, we would hold accountable a pentagon that's wasteful, we would eliminate duplications of hundreds of programs that all do the same thing with multiple layers of redundancy and administrative bureaucracy. if we were to do that, this bill will never -- this proposal will never come to a vote in the senate nor any of the aspects of it because senators don't want to make those hard choices.
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and that's what the debate about cut, cap and balance is all about. forcing senators to go back to embrace the heritage of this country and make the hard choices. because if you don't pass a balanced budget amendment and you don't force the discipline, the political expediency of this country will continue to reign and the problem will not be solved. i would also say, raising the debt limit doesn't have anything to do with our real problems because that's just the stosm the -- that's just the symptom of the problem. the problem is not living within our means. and somehow thinking that the u.s. government is different than all the state governments, all the city and county governments, every family in this country, every business in this country and every other organization in this country that has to live within its means. i cannot believe, i refuse to believe that the american people will not hold members of the
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senate accountable for not giving them a chance to put those fixed parameters on us and their government for the future. we're going to hear all sorts of reasons why we can't do that and why we won't do that, or we may not hear many at all, what we'll just see is a vote against proceeding to the procedure with no comment whatsoever. my plan is, if that happens, is to be all over this country to make sure every citizen of every state of every senator who does not allow that to proceed, for them to be aware of that. i want to personally make them aware of that in everything that i can do. because what you're really doing is denying the liberty and the freedom of this country to hold you accountable to do the right thing. so we're going to see. i wanted to spend a few minutes saying that the only thing that
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is possible right now to solve the problems in front of us -- the only thing -- even though i've endorsed a $9 trillion plan and a $3.7 trillion plan -- the only thing is this $6 trillion plan because it's passed the house of representatives. they voted to increase the debt limit and they put significant cuts into our budget for next year. they've put significant caps as we go forward, and they've said we've got to vote to pass a balanced budget amendment. right now that's the only thing that will get us out of the jam. and you know what? that's really not that hard to do. first point, we're going to cut $111 billion at least next year, no matter whether that passes or not. we're going to cap spending in the years that go forward whether that bill passes or not. but the difference is, as soon as we get our balance again, the
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politicians who don't want to make hard choices will be back to not making hard choices and we'll get in trouble again. and that's why it's absolutely critical that this country's citizens have the ability to hold us accountable within the parameters of living within our means. we'll hear all sorts of reasons why we can't do that, that it might hurt the poor. nobody here wants to in any way intend any -- anything other than support for those who can't help themselves. that's their excuse, we can't do that. well, let me tell you what's going to happen in our country, is the very programs that help the poor, the very programs that help the poor are going to be diminished in the future through fiscal necessity when we are mandated to make cuts to be able to borrow more money. so it's a false -- it's a false
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statement, because by not voting to balance the -- for a balanced budget amendment, what you're really saying is i want to claim one thing but i know something else is going to happen. i paraphrased a statement of martin luther king that i think describes this place more than anything i've ever known. and it was this. vanity asks the question is something popular. cowardice asks the question is it expedient. character asks the question is it true and right. and we have tons of vanity, we have tons of cowardice. we limit ourselves on courage and character. as you listen to the debates over the next two days on this motion to proceed on the only
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thing that will solve the problem in front of us today, i want you to listen for political expediency. i want you to listen for vanity. and then i want you to search hard to try to find courage and character because you're going to see an absence of it on those that oppose this. they know this will solve the problem. they know this is one of the few things that can pass the house of representatives. and yet, we're not going to deny -- we're not going to have it come to the floor for an amendment process, for a full debate and for a vote, and we're not going to have it for the vote because we're expediently cowards. we do not want to truly address the problem because it might affect our political careers.
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that is a sad commentary on the heritage of this country, a sad commentary, but it's a commentary to be expected. otherwise, we would have never gotten into the position we're in today. let me talk about some details of what you can do. we're going to hear all sorts of reasons why you can't do things, all sorts of reasons why you couldn't come up with with $9 trillion, but when the american people really know what's going on, if they really go and read about back in the black, really find out about all the ways, all the duplication, all the stupidity that goes on in our government, all the lack of accountability, the lack of responsibility in bureaucratic agencies, all the silly decisions that get made to spend billions of dollars that don't really help anybody, the tax code, tax earmarks and tax credits and tax expenditures are
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nothing but most of the time corporate welfare or socialism. the greatest tax in the world comes when we allow the federal reserve to print money which devalues your assets through inflation and the earnings on those assets. so the greatest tax in the world that's coming for america is that we're going to devalue the value of the dollar and inflation is going to go up and what you can earn on your assets is going to be limited by the interest rates and the differential is that which you actually lose in real value of what you owe every day. the other thing i'd point out is through the tax earmarks and tax credits in our tax code, anybody that doesn't get one of those is actually paying for them. so if you don't have an in up here, if you don't have a
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lobbyist, if you don't have some special interests looking out for you and you don't get one of those, you're paying for them through your increased taxes on your part. they are inherently unfair. but let's just look at duplication for a minute. it's interesting to look, as we have gone through the government programs in a detailed fashion with the g.a.o. based on their report, we have 100 different programs with 100 sets of bureaucracies for surface transportation. why do we have that? because congress has mismanaged. that's why.
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because of expediency, because of vanity, because of wanting to get re-elected, we create another program and another program. it looks good, sounds good, but nobody ever does the research to see where they overlap, nobody ever require that the metrics say is this program effective and nobody really looks at the constitution to say does it fit with article 1, section 8 of the constitution? the enumerated powers that we are supposed to live within which we blow by all the time doing things. the judiciary committee today passed a bill for state prisons called the second-chance act. when we passed it the first time, i finally let it go because it was supposed to be a demonstration and a limited program. it's now going to get reauthorized for five more years. it's legitimately -- has zero role for the federal government and we're going to spend spend $600 million on it, which we don't have, we'll borrow.
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it's well intended, but it's not our role, it's the states' role. and we have hundreds of thousands of things just like that where we have ignored what the constitution says so we can look good politically. we have teacher quality programs, teacher quality programs. 82 different programs by the federal government to improve the quality of our teachers. you know, thomas jefferson was really the father of education in our country. he worked for years to establish the university of virginia. he was committed to the fact that a great education will produce great benefits, not only for the individual with the education but for their family and our country as a whole. here's what he said. for the federal government to become involved in education would require a change to the u.s. constitution, who he happened to be one of the people who wrote it. and yet, what have we done since the beginning of the department
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of education? we have spent $2.6 trillion on education in this country at the federal level, and every parameter measuring a metric on the progression of our kids in schools is worse or the same after that $2.6 trillion. i can't tell you, it's not working. and the reason it's not working is you can be a teacher at home and if the federal government looks at you, we don't know what to do, but we can hire to you do the work in washington and all of a sudden you know what they need to do. so we have this massive bureaucracy that has ruined our education because we spend all our money filling out forms and requirements and meeting mandates of the federal education and we have taken the power away of the control of education from the parents and the teachers, the very people who care most about the kids and education. $2.6 trillion, with nothing to show for it other than for the
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politicians to feel good about themselves and to say we were doing something. we have 88 different economic development programs, $6 billion just in four of them. economic development. on not one of those 88 programs is there a metric anywhere that says it is money well spent that gets a positive result for the country. there is anecdotal evidence that it worked here, it worked here, but no, we don't know what we are doing. we are throwing money that we don't have on things that we don't know are working and when we go to vote for them, to eliminate them, the senate votes against it because it might bother their political position. it might bother their next election. we don't do it. we don't address and do our job. i'll never forget, in one of the committees i was in last year, two separate times, bills were brought up to the committee that
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were -- that would do identical things that we were already doing in the agencies, and the senator and their staff didn't know it. and had i not raised objections, we would have created more agencies. 80 programs for transportation assistance. 80? if it's our role, why do we need 80? and oh, by the way, has anybody measured to see if any of the 80 actually work? the answer is no. we have none that have a report on whether or not they are effective to the goals of what they were set out to do because there is no oversight carried out by congress. we were so busy earmarking for so many years, everybody forgot to check and see, what we intended to do, is it working. and we're still not doing it. we have 56 different programs to teach the american people to become financially literate. 56?
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us, the federal government, teaching financial literacy when we can't balance our budget, we have multiple programs, we don't live within a confined budget. the first principle of financial literacy is living within your means. and yet, we have this many programs, 56, to teach american citizens to be financially literate? job training, here's one of my best. this is -- this is great. we have 47 job training programs that cost $16 billion a year. all but three overlap one another. that's what the g.a.o. says, and there is not a metric on one of them to see if they're working. and when you talk to the people that go through the program, half of them say it's a waste, it's a joke, because i have actually talked to them, and yet we're spending that kind of money, in excess of $15 billion a year on job training programs?
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now, there is no question we need job training programs, but we need job training programs that work. and why would we need 47? so when somebody tells you we can't balance our budget, you ought to blow a hole right through them with your thought that says you obviously don't know what's going on in the federal government. homeless prevention assistance, 20 different federal programs. now, we should be helping people who need our help, i'm not denying that, but how we help and the mechanisms of how we help ought to be frugal, efficient and effective. you know, i have served in congress, i'm in my 13th year. six years as congressman, four years out of here to get a breath of fresh air, and now my seventh year in the senate. what i know is we don't know
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what we're doing. and it's obvious looking at our budget. it's also obvious looking at the dysfunction of the senate and the leadership in the senate that we don't want -- we haven't had a budget in two years. the one thing any financial counselor will tell you is the first thing you have got to know is where you are and set a plan. we have had no attempt to bring a budget to this body in well over two and a half years, no attempt. what does that tell you? it goes back to vanity. it goes back to cowardice. it goes back to us not doing what we're intended to do because we care more about our position than we care about the country. we have 18 programs to feed the hungry. we have 17 disaster response preparedness just in fema. 17 different programs, of which
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11 overlap. now, fema didn't set those up. the bureaucracy didn't create those. we did. every one of these programs was created by a member of congress. so you can't blame administrations and you can't blame presidents. what you have to do is blame congress. we have 130 overlapping programs in the department of agriculture, 18 overlapping programs in the department of commerce, 230 overlapping programs at the department of education, 17 in the department of energy, 36 in the department of human services, 2 in the department of homeland security, 60 in the department of housing and urban development, 40 in the department of interior, 53 in the department of justice, 35 in the department of labor, six in the department of state and 180 governmentwide if you look at all economic development programs, 180. and we just listed the 88 that run through four of the
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agencies. is it any wonder that we're going belly up? and the problem is us. the problem is we've got a solution now that's come to us from the house and we're not going to let that solution go forward because politically, politically it's uncomfortable. politically, we don't want to allow the people of this country to decide whether or not we ought to live within our means and put a bridle with a bit in our mouth that says whoa, you're not going to continue to destroy the future of this country and the prospects for our children any more. when i came to the senate, i came after having read a book called "running on empty." it was written by a nonnamed pete peterson. he was bipartisan in his
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criticism of both parties, and he was absolutely accurate. we're in trouble because parties matter more than the country, because control matters more than the country, that political careers matter more than our children or our grandchildren. i go back and talk about what's possible. a lot of people will disagree with what's in here. this $9 trillion which the house has sent us, we'll take about 600% of. here -- we'll take about 60% of. here's what i say to my colleagues who don't want to vote on a balanced budget amendment, don't want to vote on cut, cap, and balance, where's your plan? i've listed cuts, specific cuts,
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elimination of waste, elimination of fraud in this, 3,000 footnotes, looked at every program throughout the federal government, looked at every c.r.s. report, looked at every o.i.g., every o.m.b. report and looked at every other outside report that we could find. the fact is we could solve our problems tomorrow, america. we could solve them tomorrow with good, old-fashioned common sense that the vast majority of americans have and is sorely lacking. we don't have a fiscal crisis. we have a commonsense crisis in this body and in the leadership in congress. we lack common sense. we lack sound judgment. and we need the hard bit of a bridle put on us through a balanced budget amendment to control us, because human nature is human nature. and whatever we do today, we'll
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be back to our bad habits tomorrow. even if we pass cuts, even if we cap spending, if we don't have a balanced budget amendment that forces us to live within the constraints of our revenue, we will be back there again. and what does that stphaoepb that means the few -- what does that mean? that means the future of america is suspect. it doesn't have to be. we don't have to go the way of every other republic. we don't have to fail over fiscal issues. we can cheat thinks try. the american people are the greatest people in the world because they are a blend of all the people in the world and they desire freedom and opportunity. and that's limited because we've limited it. through our profligate spending, inattention to detail, our failure to do oversight, we have undercut the potential of our country. let's restore it. let's restore it. let's restore it saturday morning by moving on to this
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bill and allowing ourselves to have a debate, offer amendments and really debate. have what the senate hasn't had in a year and a half, a real debate about the issues of our day and the reasons behind it. but what i would caution the american people is remember what martin luther king said as you hear that debate. vanity asks the question: is it popular? cowardice asks the question is it expedient. but conscience, conscience and right and good asks: is it right? i'll tell you, it's not right to have multiple programs doing the same thing, wasting our kids' future. it's not right for the congress not to oversight and eliminate programs. it's not right for us to spend money we don't have on things we don't absolutely need.
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it's not right for us to take the control out of the children's education, from the parents and teachers who have the best, their best interest at heart and place it in a bureaucracy that has no compassion whatsoever, even though it feigns that it does. it's not right. maybe politically expedient, maybe popular to some people. but it doesn't make it right. so as you look, here is how you get $9 trillion. and you can pick any part of that and meet this cut, cap, and balance, or you can come up with your own. but the fact is nobody wants to lay on the table what they think. i've already been roundly criticized in the press for certain aspects of this; people who disagree. that's fine. i plan on defending everything that i put in here with the best of my knowledge and a great staff that spent thousands upon thousands of hours. we came up with a way to solve america's problems, and we can
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do it. america can be bright, can be growing, can be developing jobs if we get the government out of the way and limit the role of the federal government. i see my colleague from delaware, one of my great friends. you hear that said a lot here, but he is a great friend. it's not the conventional just common greeting. i believe i'm over my time. i will be back to the floor to finish this conversation. but america needs to know we don't have any problem we can't fix. what we lack is leaders who will fix it. that's our deficit. it's a deficit of courage. it's a deficit of
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